2015-16 Football Previews – (Sun Belt) – Ragin Cajuns
Head coach Mark Hudspeth has led the UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns to four straight 9-4 seasons. The 2015 version of this squad could certainly follow suit, but it will need to acclimate to having new starters at crucial positions.
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Sun Belt Conference Odds
Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth
2014 Record: 9-4
UL Lafayette Odds to win 2015 Sun Belt Championship: +400
Odds from Bovada to win BCS: Bet The Field
This is a squad that has performed quite well with Hudspeth at the helm, and it’s expected to continue down that same path of success in 2015.
Along with four straight 9-4 seasons, this group has been to four straight New Orleans Bowl appearances as well.
Last season, the Ragin’ Cajuns finished first in the Sun Belt in red-zone offense. That was a bright spot for an offense that finished 10th overall in passing in the conference, as well as fourth in rushing and sixth in total offense.
Despite the turnover in the roster, this program has a handful of very intriguing freshman coming on board. Gary Haynes and Keenan Barnes can’t be ignored in that category, but it’s defensive lineman Mario Osborne and quarterback Dion Ray who lead the way.
Among returning players, running back Elijah McGuire is the one to look out for. The 2014 Sun Belt Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 14 touchdowns on 166 attempts last season. At 5’11”, 208 pounds, the tailback accumulated 1,264 yards on the season, averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
Defensively, this team is stacked at linebacker. Dominique Tovell, Tre’maine Lightfoot and Otha Peters will carry the load at the position, which is a good sign for the program.
Sticking with the defense, the defensive line is likely to struggle following the departures of Christian Ringo and Justin Hamilton.
The secondary is also missing some crucial pieces from last season, which means Troy McCollum and T.J. Worthy will be the crutches on which this team leans in 2015.
Offensively, the Ragin’ Cajuns are looking to replace quarterback Terance Broadway, leading receiver James Butler and tailback Alonza Harris this season. That’s a lot of fire power gone in one offseason, which means there could certainly be some hiccups on that side of the ball — especially early in the year.
2015-16 UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns Prediction: 8-4
With the emergence of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern (not to mention Arkansas State), UL Lafayette is far from guaranteed to win the Sun Belt title once against this season. That said, this group will be competitive, and a championship isn’t out of the question.
The biggest concern here is, of course, replacing key positions. Quarterback and defensive line are the biggest question marks.
If those two can gain momentum early in the year, we could certainly be looking at a UL Lafayette team that goes 7-1 in conference play throughout the year, giving it a possible 9-3 record in regular season play.
However, a 6-2 record in conference play is a safer bet, which means we’re probably looking at a second- or third-place finish in the Sun Belt this season with a total record of 8-4.
2015 Ragin Cajuns Schedule (All times EST)
9/5/15 7:00 PM @ Kentucky
9/12/15 7:00 PM vs. Northwestern St.
9/26/15 TBD vs. Akron
10/3/15 7:00 PM @ LA Tech
10/10/15 TBD @ Texas State
10/20/15 8:00 PM @ Arkansas State
10/31/2015 TBD vs. UL Monroe
11/7/2015 TBD @ Georgia State
11/12/2015 7:30 PM @ South Alabama
11/21/2015 TBD vs. New Mexico St
11/28/2015 TBD @ Appalachian St
12/5/2015 TBD vs. Troy
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